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Sapphire Princess Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
1,054 Reviews

South East Asia January 2019

Sapphire Princess Cruise Review by Over from NZ

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Jan 2020
  • Destination: Asia

Was our 8th cruise. And maybe we're a bit over cruising - but the sparkle wasn't there for us. I think we've wised up a bit.. and we're also now 'all about the destinations' rather than the cruise. So maybe it's time to give cruising a miss unless for certain itineraries. In hindsight we should not have cruised this itinerary. Better to do it by land as would not cost you more (probably less). As an example. Bangkok is almost 3 hours each way on the tour bus. So a total of 6 hours sitting in the bus out of the 10 hours of the excursion to see Bangkok. Saigon was a long way from the Port too - no time to really explore the markets etc. An overnight stop would have been ideal. The other Vietnam Port was ok. Cambodia.. although we enjoyed it, the Port township was an absolute shambles and many complained. In fact, many people didn't even bother getting off the ship. We did a mix of private and Princess excursions. Princess do charge a lot more for theirs.. but you have to be mindful in these poorer countries with cities a long way from the port.. that if something goes wrong, you're stuck and will miss the ship. So felt obliged to use Princess excursions more than we would elsewhere. Which costs extra. Borneo princess excursion was ho-hum. We did enjoy Koh Samui though - where we rode Elephants, but the time in Port was too short. We had wanted to go to the beach etc there. Given the captain had the ship going at a reasonably slow pace (they advise the knots it is travelling at), there's plenty of room to extend the time in Port (presumably penny-pinching is the reason not to) and we should have had more time to explore the place. Our last port, my wife and I didn't make it to Kuala Lumpur as she had been unwell (from memory, a good hour and a half each way on the bus). The only other option was a bus to a local mall which you had to pay Princess extra for of course.

Food on the ship was sadly very hit & miss. Ate dinner in the MDR every night and lunch on sea-days. Ranged from very good to not good. Often was luke-warm or even cold. Certainly nothing to write home about and a bit disappointing. Buffet was the usual fare and was average and the chips/burgers were good. Pizza was fine. We had late set-dining (in the past we've had early set-dining at around 5.45pm from memory, however they brought it forward to 5pm which is far too early for us). 7.30pm was too late - we missed a number of shows etc in the evening as we often weren't out of the dining room till after 9pm (the main shows are usually on twice and you can see the earlier show before hand if organised, however quite a number of shows are only on once.. and at a time that means you cant get to it if you have late seating). We didn't bother paying for the specialty restaurants - we already felt like we were being milked by Princess and the dinner companions we had were such fun that spending time with them each night was the highlight not to be missed.

Entertainment is definitely pitched at the older crowd and was ok, Very tame if you're a young person (say younger than a retiree). We didn't see all of it for a number of reasons, but what we saw was mediocre. Usual Cruise Director type that would fit in nicely at a Hi-De-Hi or Benadorm all-inclusive resort. The Casino unfortunately doesn't have Texas Poker anymore (dealer or electronic). Tables and machines have worse odds than on shore - because they can get away with it. It is what it is. The casino was a ghost-town for almost all of the trip. No bar at the casino too (replaced with a high-rollers room for the Asians), so drink service very slow in casino. Usual level of trying to convince you to empty your wallet with over-priced Art, Jewelry, and improvement programs. Maybe the constant barrage of that is wearing thin for us. It's all a bit of a have and once you've cruised a bit.. you quickly get over all that.

We mainly used the pool at the back of the ship. Was never too busy, although the number of seriously selfish people hogging lounge-chairs never ceases to amaze. Watched one pompous family "reserve" loungers in the sun.. but then went and spent hours drinking in the shade!

Embarkation for Platinum - still had to line up for a long time to get through customs. Disembarkation however was very swift and the special lounge a nice touch. There was a nightly happy-hour type thing for Platinum and Elite. We went once, but it was no big deal.

Service as always, was superb. The dining staff were excellent. Our room attendant was excellent too. They work so hard the staff. Sadly, we had to visit the Medical centre. Excellent service there too.


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